Rowers Juliette Haigh and Rebecca Scown have made it two medals in two days for New Zealand at the Olympic Games on Dorney Lake.

The coxless pair won the bronze medal to match the achievement of the eventing team a day earlier in a dramatic final won by British pair Helen Glover and Heather Stanning, with Australians Kate Hornsey and Sarah Tait pinching second from the New Zealanders at the line.

Haigh and Scown, who had won the last two world titles, were comfortably clear in second by the halfway mark, still held an almost-two second lead over the Australians at the 1500m mark, only to be mown down in the run to the line.

"We put everything out there so I know that was the best from us today," Scown said minutes after the race.

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But there was no denying Britain deserved the title. Glover and Stanning became the hosts' first gold medal winners of these Olympics and, what's more, they are Britain's first female Olympic rowing gold medallists.

The huge crowd, including British royalty, roared on the pair and the women chose the perfect moment to produce a sizzling row, which none of the other finalists could hope to match.

They recorded 7 min 27.13 seconds, 2.73s ahead of the fast-finishing Australians, who in turn were just .33s ahead of Haigh and Scown.

However, the New Zealanders won't have realised at the time they got the bronze by the barest of margins themselves.

Americans Sarah Hendershot and Sarah Zelenka flashed home only .20s behind the New Zealanders.

Haigh and Scown had done it tough in the European campaign this year. The British pair had won both World Cup regattas the New Zealanders contested.

They finished second and third in those regattas at Lucerne and Munich and for Haigh, in particular, the bronze will be cause for celebration.

At the last two Olympics she and her then-partner Nicky Coles were last and second last.

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On top of that, Haigh suffered a severe bout of tendonitis in a hand about three weeks ago.

"A lot goes through the head and heart just dealing with the pain," she said.

"My arms were seizing up but I didn't want to do anything disastrous. It was just stroke after stroke. I was literally hanging on for dear life and praying that we could get our nose in front of the Australians, but they just got us."

Their coach John Robinson didn't think the result hinged on Haigh's injury, even though she had missed a few days in the boat.

"I am just pleased they did get something out of the race, rather than nothing."

Last night showed how events earlier in the four-yearly Olympic cycle can count for little when the big show arrives.

Scown reflected on the pleasure of getting a tangible reward for their four years together.

"We've had a fantastic partnership over the years and it's nice we have this to share together," she said.